With less than a month to go for CAT 2009, the pressure on B-school aspirants is mounting. Strategising, mock CATs, time management -- each have their own importance and value when it comes to making your CAT attempt meaningful.
To help test-takers, we asked readers who have taken the CAT to share their tips and tricks. Here, Gaurav Jaiswal, IIM Calcutta -- Batch 2011, shares his experiences.
I belonged to the breed of IT professionals who see CAT as not merely an exam but as an opportunity that can help them not only to be in a much better position at a professional level, but also enjoy the other tangible and intangible benefits associated with it (read money, social status etc). I had some familiarity with this exam, as I had a shot at it previously -- I took CAT while in college just because all my friends were appearing for it. However this unsuccessful attempt had given me a fair idea of what you can expect in CAT, as I managed to score quite well (97.6 per cent) even with minimal preparations.
I started early this time, realising that I should not expect anything until I have put in my best effort. I was not able to join the weekend classes owing to my hectic job. I had with me the study material of Career Launcher, which helped me to clear the basic concepts and gave me a head start in preparations.
I joined two test series including the Career Launcher one, which I believe is of utmost importance as it helps you to know where you stand in actual competition. After every test I would try identifying the mistakes that I committed and worked on area that I thought I could have done better in.
On the professional front the job was hectic, Saturdays, at times, were spent in offices, and there was little scope of preparation on weekdays. My marks in tests also were stuck in the 90-95 per cent range with skewed sectionals. From my previous experiences, I had learnt that I needed to remain motivated until the very end and tried to keep my composure.
Finally, I was able to score 99 per cent in the final test and that too with balanced sectionals, which boosted my sagging morale.
On the big day, I started with Quant and managed to do it decently. Then came DI, where I quickly cracked a small set. However, I got stuck in a few sets. At the end of 50 minutes spent in DI, I realised that I might have missed the bus this time as well. I tried to solve English quickly and did return to DI but it did no good to my chances. I came out of the hall feeling that all the effort put in had gone down the drain. I had not attempted a good number of questions in Engish and DI was doubtful.
When the result came, it was an absolute shocker, one that I could not have imagined in my wildest of wild dreams. I got calls from ABCLIK!
Group discussion, personal interview
After the initial euphoria died down, I was worried about the interviews. And after attending the mock GD-PI sessions, my self-assessment was confirmed by the faculties of coaching Institutes. "At this level you will be kicked out by all", "You have got such a golden opportunity and you are wasting it" were their comments. Luckily, I had filled all the forms, and had calls from IIFT, NM, SIBM, SJMSOM etc also.
I ended up attending 15 interviews in a span of two months. I managed to screw up in most of them. In some GDs I spoke too little, in some whatever I spoke was not heard. If the GD went well, then I was tortured in the PI. All in all, it was an experience that will remain with me forever.
Slowly the results started coming in. They were along expected lines. I did not get selected by IIFT. The same was the case with IMT, NITIE and NM. To add to my woes, the job front was equally disastrous. In the last two months, I had earned the reputation of being a careless person, of no good. I was reprimanded by the manager for neglecting professional responsibilities and was kicked out of the team. I wonder what prevented them from giving me the pink slip.
The night of April 9 was spent in preparing for the worst. I found out abouyt the the IIMB reject through a PDF that was circulating on Pagalguy. I spent that night out in order to divert my attention. I returned home by 3 am and tried unsuccessfully to sleep.
At 6 in the morning, I started checking the results. IIML came first and I scraped through. I was elated. I jumped in joy and there were tears in my eyes. I thanked God profusely and had a sense of relief that I was finally going somewhere. I also got selected by IIMC, with waiting in IIMK and IIMI, which were cleared.
1. Remain focused even if the situation seems bleak.
2. Have confidence in your abilities and give your best effort.
3. GD-PI requires thorough preparation, keep yourself updated about what is happening across the world and have an opinion about everything under the sun.
4. CAT is not the end of the road; always have Plan B in place.
Gaurav Jaiswal is enrolled in IIM Calcutta's batch of 2011 and was a student of Career Launcher.
Have you aced the CAT? Do you have tips that could help students improve their scores or stress-busting strategies to beat pre-CAT nerves? Send in your advice to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll publish your strategies right here on rediff.com.